India’s biggest-ever spectrum auction ended with the Centre garnering Rs.65,789 crore in revenue.
An upfront payment of Rs.32,000 to be received by the government in the current year is the highest in four years. Still the figure falls short of the budgetary target of Rs.64,000 crore for the current financial year.
Of the 2,355 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum, worth Rs.5.6 lakh crore across seven bands put up for bids, 965 MHz, or about 40 per cent, got sold. No spectrum was sold in the premium 700 MHz band due to a high reserve price.
There were no takers for the 900 Mhz band as well.
“I think it was a successful auction and a big achievement,” said Manoj Sinha, Telecom Minister. “For some spectrum bands, telcos did not have the ecosystem.”
The spectrum sold in this auction is more than the total spectrum sold in the last five auctions since 2012. “Spectrum scarcity will no longer be a constraint for providing good quality of services,” Telecom Secretary J. S. Deepak said.
India’s biggest telecom operator Bharti Airtel said that it had acquired 173.8 MHz spectrum across 1800, 2100 and 2300 MHz bands for a total consideration of Rs.14,244 crore, while Idea Cellular said it spent Rs. 12,798 crore to acquire 349.2 MHz. Reliance Jio bought 269.2 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and the 2300 MHz bands for Rs.13,672 crore.
Altogether, a total of 2,354.55 megahertz of mobile airwave frequencies were up for auction for the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands. Seven operators were in the fray – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Reliance Communications and Aircel.
Industry body COAI said the lack of enthusiasm was due to unrealistic pricing, high debt and the single-digit growth that the industry was currently reeling under.
Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, COAI, said: “We are hopeful the Government and the DoT will take cognisance of the role of a high reserve price had on bidding, as far as the 700 MHz is concerned, and will recalibrate the price so that spectrum in the band could be put up for auction, maybe two years from now.”
Source: The Hindu